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Zappos’ Unusual Self-Governing Corporate Structure

Flat organizations, which seek to reduce layers of corporate bureaucracy and management tiers, have long been the stuff of business school case studies.

Enter the atypical online retailer Zappos, which has been owned by Amazon since 2009 and is known for its unusual culture where executives are referred to as "Monkeys" and call center reps are given the best real estate and views from the top floor.

The company is eliminating any semblance of a "top-down" corporate culture in favor of a self-governing structure consisting of a series of "circles," within which employees can play different roles. So reports The New York Times.

The rather avant-garde organizational philosophy is known as "Holacracy," from a Greek word meaning a "whole" that is part of a larger "whole." What that translates to is no formal managerial titles or hierarchical structure, as well as a self-governing organizational structure where leadership and entrepreneurship are expected of each corporate role.

Management consulting firm HolacracyOne has been tapped to help Zappos reduce its bureaucracy while enabling higher levels of growth and transparency. The firm expects to feature up to 400 (concentric?) circles in a year’s time.

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